Mark Cavendish had rough finish to stage one of the Tour de France Sunday in Brussels, a situation made worse by the jeers of fans dressed in team Sky kit.
They yelled repeatedly, “Cavendish, you suck! Go home!”
The HTC-Columbia sprinter stopped and looked at what appeared to be fellow Brits asking him to him to leave the Tour de France. He kept calm and responded briefly.
“Have a nice day, OK,” he said.
“That’s just life,” he told Cycling Weekly.
He followed the team’s press officer and coach Erik Zabel to the team bus, where Zabel talked to him briefly.
“It was strong from him that he stayed so calm,” Zabel said. “It annoys you a lot if you come off the finish line and the fans talk to you like this.”
Zabel won the green jersey at the Tour de France six times and joined HTC-Columbia to help coach Cavendish. Last year, he helped Cavendish win Milan-San Remo and six stages at the Tour de France. This year, though, Cavendish was delayed by teeth problems and a crash at the Tour de Suisse.
Cavendish wanted to set matters straight today and establish himself as top gun, but a crash soon after three kilometres ruined his chances.
“I don’t know what happened,” Cavendish said.
“Today was important for us. He missed a chance and of course Thor [Hushovd] was third and [Alessandro] Petacchi won,” Zabel added. “Now we’re one stage behind.”
Zabel revealed that he told Cavendish to keep his motivation high and not to be affected by the loss or the jeers of the fans. He said that Cavendish will have a chance on the cobbled stage to Arenberg and certainly on the flat stages to follow.
Besides scrapes and receiving the jeers of disrespectful fans, Cavendish is okay and will start tomorrow.
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